Royals photographer reflects on a thrilling 2011
It has truly been a seminal year for the British Royal Family. The engagement of Prince William and Catherine Middleton really marked the start of a frenetic period of success that looks set to continue well into the next decade — and it all began just over a year ago on the 16th November with a rather large sapphire engagement ring and a rushed photocall in St James Palace.
Since then, I have found the past 13 months an exhilarating experience with many surprises and a lot of excitement along the way.
2011: A Royal Year
The start of the year was punctuated by a number of much anticipated appearances of Catherine around the British Isles. She wowed the crowds, from a lifeboat launch in North Wales to a visit St Andrews University in Scotland (where she first fell in love with Prince Willliam). As she tossed pancakes in Northern Ireland and attended glamorous events in London, “Brand Kate” was as swiftly on the way into the stratosphere as quickly as Reiss was selling out of dresses. The incredible hype and global media interest became apparent to myself as a photographer as I watched the way full-length fashion images of Kate flew into papers and magazines around the world.
In April, I headed on a trip to Portugal, Spain and Morocco where Camilla decided to get herself a henna tattoo in the souk in Fez. The elation of the moment was followed by panic as it seemed to be semi-permanent … and Camilla realised she had a royal wedding later in the month!
Indeed, the Royal Wedding was a massive highlight for everyone at Getty Images as huge resources were deployed to cover this landmark event. My nerves were certainly on edge taking the shot of Prince William and the newly titled ‘Duchess of Cambridge’ as they left Westminster Abbey. Getty Images photographers captured the couple in 3-D, Panoramic and from every conceivable angle — take a look at the video above to see what I mean.
The hype for the Royals was at fever pitch after the wedding, and it was deemed prudent for the Queen to make a historic visit to Ireland, the first by a British monarch since 1911. For photographers, security was tight, but I shall never forget photographing the Queen taking part in her first ever “walkabout,” chatting with members of the public outside a market in Cork.
The visit to Ireland was followed swiftly by a State visit to the UK of President Barack Obama, and a glamorous State banquet I photographed underscored the strong ties between the monarch and the president.
After their well-documented millenary faux-pas at the royal wedding Beatrice and Eugenice were keen to impress on the nation this was a one-off. As I photographed the Chelsea Flower Show Beatrice toured the flowers with her father looking elegant as ever.
William and Catherine’s trip to Canada in July was much anticipated. The pressure was going to be great on Catherine and an expectant global media was keen to see how she handled it. The large press pack reflected the focus on the story and as we traveled for 10 days from Ottawa to Prince Edward Island and Yellowknife in the far North of Canada the fatigue grew! In the event it was an incredible success and it was on my last day in California, where I shot a relaxed private event for the Tusk Trust in Santa Barbara that I had time to reflect on some of the amazing places I’d been.
Certainly one of the highlights for me this year was a trip to South Africa and Tanzania with Prince Charles and Camilla. The combination of a small and relaxed group of press, some incredible locations and a very game royal couple resulted in some great photo opportunities.
Next year is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, celebrating her 60 years on the throne. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will travel to one of the smallest and most remote nations in the world, Tuvalu, as well as Singapore, Malaysia and the Solomon Islands. Prince Harry will undertake his first solo tour on behalf of the Queen, taking in Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas. Charles and Camilla will drop in on Australia, Canada, New Zealand and, very excitingly, Papua New Guinea. The Queen will tour the UK and there will be many events to celebrate around the country. Of course we also have the Olympics…
It makes me almost breathless thinking about everything that will be going on, but incredibly excited to be playing my part in documenting some of this history.